Pew Compiles Data on $964.9 Billion of Federal Grants and Tax Expenditures Spent in Six Sectors of Economy

Contact: Samantha Lasky, 202.540.6390


Washington, DC - 03/20/2012 - With the release of data on the last six economic sectors, Subsidyscope completes its unique compilation of government data on federal subsidies, including a searchable database that enables users to query grant or contract information. At least $964.9 billion was spent on grants and tax expenditures in FY 2010 in agriculture; education; health; national defense; natural resources and environment; and science, space, and technology sectors.

“Federal spending on subsidies and tax expenditures is an integral part of the conversation about the federal debt and deficit,” said Lori Metcalf, project manager of Subsidyscope. “The data that Subsidyscope provides can help policy makers make more informed decisions.”

Spending differences by sector are large; there is a $730 billion range between the largest and smallest of the six sectors. The three with the largest sums of grants and tax expenditures are the following:

Health: The federal government plays the largest role in the health sector of any of those studied by Subsidyscope. In FY 2010, the government spent at least $743.5 billion on healthcare-related grants and tax expenditures. This includes reported grants for Medicare, Medicaid, and the tax exclusion for employer provided medical care, though Subsidyscope found that the amounts reported in USASpending.gov for Medicare Parts A and B for FY 2010 are less than half of the amounts reported for those programs by other government sources for the same year.

Education: In FY 2010, the government spent $129.2 billion on education-related grants and tax expenditures. Additionally, the federal government made sizable commitments through loans and loan guarantees for student loans for higher education.

Agriculture: In addition to the $32.2 billion spent on agriculture-related grants and tax expenditures in FY 2010, the agriculture sector conveys subsidies through risk transfer programs such as loans to farmers, export subsidies, and crop insurance programs.

Grants and tax expenditures in science space, and technology; national defense; and natural resources and the environment total $23.4 billion, $23 billion, and $13.6 billion, respectively.

Subsidyscope uses federal data to populate searchable databases that enable users to query grant or contract information within each sector. The compilation of data allows for easier comparisons of spending among economic sectors and provides an historical context for those who determine future budgets and allocations.

The databases include information going back to FY 2000 and contain some stimulus funding data. All nine sectors − those released today as well as housing, energy, and transportation − and the Tax Expenditure Database that presents estimates from the Department of Treasury and the Joint Committee on Taxation, are available at www.subsidyscope.org.

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